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Union Square sees increased police presence for holiday season

SFPD increases Union Square presence amid holiday shopping
SFPD increases Union Square presence amid holiday shopping 03:17

San Francisco has seen a major increase in police officers around Union Square this holiday season to deter theft. 

An SFPD lieutenant dedicated to the area said that so far, there's been no major incidents to report.

It's not hard to see the results, with uniformed officers and patrol cars on virtually every corner. The department also recently received an SFPD ATV from the Union Square Alliance, adding to its patrol force.

Gerda Bakker and her mother are visiting San Francisco from The Netherlands for the first time. She said she researched crime in city before committing to the trip.

"I did look up, but it was safe enough," she said. "What we do see, a lot of homeless people and a lot of drugs used on the street, we are not very used to that."

"I think it's a good neighborhood and a lot of police, we see a lot of police cars, so it feels good," she said of Union Square.

Stepped up security measures are part of the city's Safe Shopper Initiative, which began after high-profile smash and grabs at luxury stores two years ago.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said last week, her office charged two people earlier in the smash-and-grab at the Dior store in October.

"The San Francisco Police Department as a part of this grant was awarded $15 million, which will assist them being able to staff officers in our business corridors," she said.

SFPD also expanded its community ambassador program, which is made up of mostly retired officers, to increase visibility.

The Sweatts from Foster City made their annual Union Square holiday shopping trip on Wednesday.

"We see the police presence, so they weren't kidding they got them out in force," said Greg Sweatt.

"It's nice to see it, but it's also sad that there has to be that much around because it has been that unsafe," added Mary Sweatt. "Would I take my kids up here? No."

Like last year, the city will also close off certain streets to car traffic in the evening.

Asked if Bakker would make a return trip to San Francisco:

"If I could yeah... I think so yes," she said.  

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